Diversity and inclusion initiatives are offensive and reproduce inequality

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives are Offensive and Reproduce Inequality

Article originally published on LinkedIn

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives are offensive and reproduce inequality. First, the logic of corporate D&I initiatives is incompatible with reality, human nature and historical precedent.

D&I Initiatives are Offensive

I’m consistently baffled. I cannot understand why we continue to hope and truly believe that the people who benefit from our exclusion will take meaningful steps to acquiesce their positions of power. Particularly since the law isn’t incentive for corporations to comply with relevant Constitutional amendments and anti-employment discrimination statutes.

Law Review

  • The Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment prohibits states from denying any person equal protection under the law. For those who need a reminder, the 14th amendment:

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e) prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin (including membership in a Native American tribe). To be clear, and as explicitly stated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

Under the laws enforced by EEOC, it is illegal to discriminate against someone (applicant or employee) because of that person’s race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to retaliate against a person because he or she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The law forbids discrimination in every aspect of employment.

The laws enforced by EEOC prohibit an employer or other covered entity from using neutral employment policies and practices that have a disproportionately negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), or national origin, or on an individual with a disability or class of individuals with disabilities, if the policies or practices at issue are not job-related and necessary to the operation of the business. The laws enforced by EEOC also prohibit an employer from using neutral employment policies and practices that have a disproportionately negative impact on applicants or employees age 40 or older, if the policies or practices at issue are not based on a reasonable factor other than age.

Gender Pay Gap Violates Federal Law

The gender pay gap violates federal law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits pay discrimination. This information is also publicly available on the EEOC’s website:

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee in the payment of wages or employee benefits on the bases of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Employee benefits include sick and vacation leave, insurance, access to overtime as well as overtime pay, and retirement programs. For example, an employer many not pay Hispanic workers less than African-American workers because of their national origin, and men and women in the same workplace must be given equal pay for equal work.

D&I Initiatives Reproduce Inequality

D&I initiatives, mired in the very structures where dominant culture protects institutions that protect the status quo power structure, reproduce inequality. Here are some more facts to chew on.

  • Corporations spend millions (sometimes billions) of dollars annually to support organizational units charged with trolling the social media accounts of women and minorities who are paid hush money after employment discrimination occurs. The reason corporations hire people to troll social media accounts is to make sure discrimination victims stay silent and don’t share the abuses online. It is for this reason corporations make hush money payments in bi-weekly installments.

The same institutions participate in PWC’s CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, an initiative whereby corporate leaders pledge to check their bias, speak up for others and show up for all. According to the CEO Action website:

Our goal is to rally the business community together to take measureable action in advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Companies recognize that signing the pledge is the first of many important steps toward meaningful change. Contributing to and learning from the database of diversity and inclusion actions is another. With businesses anchored in almost every community across America, we have the opportunity—and responsibility—to play a meaningful role in such an important societal issue.

To suggest the goal is to take measurable action in advancing D&I when CEO’s who participate oversee departments that spend millions of dollars annually to support organizational units charged with trolling women and minorities who are paid hush money after employment discrimination occurs is obscene.

Gender Pay Gap, Racial Disparities Attributable to Institutional Actions

  • Corporations work with political nonprofits and government to advocate for corporate interests and undermine the rights of women and minorities.

Before I go further, it’s useful to understand my employment history. I’m a public affairs and administration professional. I know from: (a) tracking and analyzing legislative proposals across state legislatures — and drafting legislation for use by state legislatures (b) working for and in partnership with nonprofit interest groups (c) working for and in partnership with government and the courts and (d) as a previous member of a corporate Political Action Committee (PAC), that the gender pay gap and racial/ethnic disparities in employment are attributable to the actions taken by government (in partnership with corporate and nonprofit interests).

What does this Mean?

In short, the First Amendment allows interest groups to petition the government (lobby) for a redress of grievances. And the First Amendment considers corporate speech free speech. Take ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), for example.

The following is directly from ALEC’s website, quoted at length because of the insight it provides.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism. Comprised of nearly one-quarter of the country’s state legislators and stakeholders from across the policy spectrum, ALEC members represent more than 60 million Americans and provide jobs to more than 30 million people in the United States. 

All Americans deserve an efficient, effective and accountable government that puts the people in control. ALEC provides a forum for experts to discuss business and economic issues facing the states. The ALEC model policy library is home to dynamic and innovative ideas that reduce the cost of everyday life and ensure economic freedom. ALEC ideas and publications are the product of countless hours of research, debate and discussion and serve as a toolkit for anyone who wants to increase the effectiveness and reduce the size, reach and cost of government. ALEC is proud to offer real solutions to the top issues facing the states, and the strength of the ALEC family is proof that good ideas are better when shared.

By joining ALEC, state legislators gain the competitive advantage of shared knowledge and experience, as they are able to learn from one another about what policies have succeeded or failed in the states. Similarly, business leaders and policy experts are able to discuss the real-world implications of potential policies with state legislators who best know their communities and economic landscapes.

To translate,

  • ALEC is a Conservative leaning interest group.
  • ALEC is a nonprofit association made up of government officials and corporations.
  • ALEC provides a way for government officials and corporations to collaborate and make sure government action aligns with stakeholder values *provides solutions* (in terms of legislation and regulation).

Meaning, ALEC, corporations and elected officials work together to make sure legislative (law) proposals such as gender pay equality and anti-discrimination/harassment measures don’t become law (among other things). While this may be off-putting to some people, this is how our systems and processes of government work. This information is easy to access (start with the links provided). It is important for people to take initiative and learn how decisions are made. Decisions that impact the realities people face every day. It is also important to learn how to read legislative proposals in their relative context. Tip: Consider the source. 

Note: If you want to go a step further and learn where you can find how legislators vote on given issues, leave a comment. It is public (free) information. 

  • study published by The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveals “that since the beginning of 2000, large corporations are known to have paid $2.7 billion in penalties, including $2 billion in 234 private lawsuits” for discrimination and harassment damages (lawsuits). 

Note: we need to move on from trying to persuade corporations to abide by the law (otherwise referred to as D&I) using the ” D&I increases bottom-line” argument. Clearly, this approach is insufficient in mitigating gender pay disparities, discrimination and harassment that occurs across industries. Also, corporations aren’t hurting financially. They are doing quite well, so… 

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives are Offensive and Reproduce Inequality

Gender pay disparities, blatant discrimination and the lack of racial and ethnic inclusion across institutions are violations of employment law. That we are supposed to believe the people who benefit from our exclusion are taking meaningful steps to acquiesce their positions of power is laughable. Especially in consideration of what we know. Moreover, if corporate narratives about commitments to D&I were in fact true, the billions of dollars corporations pay yearly — to silence and compensate women and minorities after employment violations occur — wouldn’t be warranted.

Request for Comments

Help me understand, given D&I initiatives are corporate public relations strategies to avoid the appearance of bias, why is it so many of us participate in and feed into the D&I folly?

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OLIVIA P. WALKER IS A PUBLIC AFFAIRS STRATEGIST. SHE LAUNCHED O.W.B PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND CREATES ALL SITE CONTENT. PRIOR TO THESE ROLES, OLIVIA SERVED AS GOVERNANCE CONSULTANT FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR PHARMACEUTICAL ENGINEERING. BEFORE THAT, SHE SERVED AS GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC POLICY ANALYST FOR WELLCARE HEALTH PLANS, A FORTUNE 500 HEALTH INSURER.

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Olivia P. Walker

OLIVIA IS A GRADUATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS. SHE GRADUATED FROM THE MASTER OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION (MPA) PROGRAM AT THE TOP OF HER CLASS. OLIVIA WAS DULY INITIATED INTO PI ALPHA ALPHA, THE GLOBAL HONOR SOCIETY FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ADMINISTRATION IN NOVEMBER 2016. SHE ALSO HOLDS A GRADUATE CERTIFICATE IN GLOBALIZATION STUDIES. THE CERTIFICATE IS A SPECIALIZED GRADUATE-LEVEL CREDENTIAL REFLECTING KNOWLEDGE OF THE MOST UP-TO-DATE RESEARCH ON GLOBALIZATION. OLIVIA IS A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND A MEMBER OF THE ASPA SECTION ON PUBLIC LAW AND ADMINISTRATION.

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Michael Cohen Former Lawyer for President Donald Trump Testifies Live on C-SPAN

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former Lawyer, Testifies Live on C-SPAN: Plea Deal Included

  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testifies live on C-SPAN today.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questions Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer about investigations as they relate to the Trump organization and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
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Michael Cohen, Trump’s former Lawyer, Testifies Live on C-SPAN

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hosts a hearing with Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer. As such, Cohen answers the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s questions about:

(a) Trump’s Russia (Moscow) tower project;

(b) Hush money payments made to women on behalf of Trump leading up to the 2016 presidential election; and

(c) Campaign finance violations.

The event aired live on C-SPAN. And the full hearing is available to the public here.

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What is C-SPAN?

Consider C-SPAN’s mission statement, worth quoting because it sheds light on the organization.

C-SPAN is a public service created by the American Cable Television Industry, the organization’s mission includes:

  • To provide C-SPAN’s audience access to the live gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to other forums where public policy is discussed, debated and decided––all without editing, commentary or analysis and with a balanced presentation of points of view.
  • To employ production values that accurately convey the business of government rather than distract from it.

Who is Michael Cohen?

Michael Cohen is President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer. According to the United States District Court Southern District of New York, Cohen:

“Was an attorney and employee of a Manhattan-based real estate company […] COHEN held the title of “Executive Vice President” and “Special Counsel” to the owner of the Company (” Individual 1″ ).”

Notably, Individual 1 is now known as Donald Trump. Importantly, Cohen doesn’t work for President Trump now. In fact, during the Committee hearing, Cohen mentions, “I lost my law license.” Meaning, Cohen is disbarred; his license to practice law is revoked. Worse than disbarment, Mr.Cohen is sentenced to three years in prison.

Michael Cohen’s Plea Deal

Michael Cohen is going to prison. According to an August 21, 2018 Department of Justice press release, Cohen signed a plea deal admitting to,”charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a federally-insured bank, and campaign finance violations.  The plea was entered followed the filing of an eight-count criminal information, which alleged that COHEN concealed more than $4 million in personal income from the IRS, made false statements to a federally-insured financial institution in connection with a $500,000 home equity loan, and, in 2016, caused $280,000 in payments to be made to silence two women who otherwise planned to speak publicly about their alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election.” Worthy of note, Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress.

Cohen’s False Statements to Congress Cause Concerns\

Per the plea deal (provided below), Michael Cohen, “Agrees to waive indictment and plead guilty to a Criminal Information [for] making false statement to the U.S Congress.” For this reason some Committee members question the integrity of Cohen’s testimony.

Michael-cohen-plea-agreement

Chairman’s Statements About Cohen Hearing

Elijah Cummings is the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. As Chairman, Cummings’ expresses concerns early in the hearing about:

  • Documents and “other corroborating evidence” indicating President Trump reimbursed Cohen for hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels;
  • Mr. Cohen’s account of a meeting in 2016 whereby efforts to damage Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign were discussed; and
  • Some members’ — of the Republican Party — attempts to prevent the public from hearing Cohen’s testimony.

Let’s Talk About It

About the Author

Olivia P. Walker is a local government campaign advisor and public affairs analyst. Prior to these roles, Olivia served as governance consultant for the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE). Before that, she worked as government affairs and public policy analyst for WellCare Health Plans, a Fortune 500 health insurer.

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Olivia P. Walker

Olivia holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs. In 2016, Olivia was duly initiated into Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.  Finally, Olivia  is a member of the American Society for Public Administration and a member of the ASPA Section on Public Law and Administration

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Featured image article titled Identity Politics is an American Tradition, and the Constitution is proof. Article caption: The writers of the Constitution organized with focus around their social group. Article written by Olivia P. Walker

Identity Politics: The Southern Strategy, Because “By 1968 You Can’t Say Nigger”

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Identity Politics: The Southern Strategy, Because “By 1968 You Can’t Say Nigger”

“You start out in 1954 by saying, Nigger, nigger, nigger. By 1968 you can’t say nigger—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a by product of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites and subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But, I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract and that coded, uh that we’re doing away with the racial problem one way or another you follow me cause obviously saying we want to cut this, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than nigger, nigger, you know? So, any way you look at it race is coming in on the back burner” — Lee Atwater (1981), strategic advisor to President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush

 

 

What is Identity Politics? 

Identity politics is an American tradition. In fact, the writers of the United States Constitution organized with a focus around their social group. In other words,  identity politics has played a role in American politics since its founding.

Identity Politics Defined 

Identity politics refers to a range of political activities and strategies used by social groups with the intent to (a) establish and keep political power and to (b) redress historical grievances, imbalances of power and constitutional violations that are attributable to government action. To be clear, identity politics is an American tradition. An example of identity politics is the Southern Strategy. 

What is the Southern Strategy?

The Southern Strategy refers to a Republican electoral strategy used to strengthen political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African-Americans:

You start out in 1954 by saying, Nigger, nigger, nigger. By 1968 you can’t say nigger—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a by product of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites and subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But, I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract and that coded, uh that we’re doing away with the racial problem one way or another you follow me cause obviously saying we want to cut this, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than nigger, nigger, you know? So, any way you look at it race is coming in on the back burner — Lee Atwater (1981)

These are Lee Atwater’s words. He made this statement in 1981 during an interview with Alexandar Lamis.

Who is Lee Atwater? 

Lee Atwater (1951-1991) was a strategic advisor to President Ronald Reagan when he did the interview. In 2012, The Nation published the forty-two minute interview for the first time. During the interview, Lee Atwater explains how “Republicans can win the vote of racists without sounding racist themselves.” Click here to listen to the interview. 

Identity Politics is an American Tradition

Identity politics is an American tradition. For example, the writers of the United States Constitution organized with a focus around their social group. Meaning, identity politics played a role in American politics long before Republican’s used the Southern Strategy.  While the US Constitution established America as a system of government based on the guarantee of citizens’ individual rights, “Citizens” — at the Nation’s founding — referred to white, property holding men.  

America’s History of Identity Politics 

The writers of the US Constitution organized with a focus around their social group. Historically, America’s government has operated as a system of government based on group rights, not individual rights. That is, citizens’ rights have been based on what we are (group rights) and not individual rights based on who we are. Therefore, to redress historical imbalances of power, grievances and constitutional violations that are attributable to government action, historically marginalized groups (US citizens) engage in identity politics to assure the guarantee of their individual rights.  

Resources: Identity Politics in Action  

1. Journal Article: [Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” and Forces against Brown].

2. Timeline: [History of Racism and Immigration Timeline: Key Events in the Struggle for Racial Equity in the United States]. 

3. Video: [ Political Right Since the 1960’s].

4. Article: [Living the Legacy: The Women’s Rights Movement (1848-1998)].

5. Article: [Genocide and American Indian History].

6. Article: [Japanese Internment Camps].

7. Video: [Marriage Equality].

8. Journal Article: [The Devil and the One Drop Rule: Racial Categories, African Americans, and the U.S. Census].

9. Annotation: [Three-Fifths Compromise — Digital History]. 

About the Author

Olivia P. Walker is a public affairs strategist and writer. Prior to these roles, Olivia served as governance consultant for the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE). Before that, she worked as government affairs and public policy analyst for WellCare Health Plans, a Fortune 500 health insurer. Olivia holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs. In 2016, Olivia was duly initiated into Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.  She  is a member of the American Society for Public Administration and a member of the ASPA Section on Public Law and Administration

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